When I was a kid… boy, you know you’ve gotten old when you start a story out like that… okay, so long, long ago, when I was a young child, we’re talking 1970’s, my mom started thinking about Halloween approximately two days before the main event.
And if it was a good year, we might have even gone to Kmart or Rose’s department store and gotten a “store-bought” costume. Boy, that was exciting, a flimsy bit of fabric so thin you could read through it and a plastic mask with insufficient holes for either seeing or breathing. And you didn’t know what you were planning to “be” for Halloween prior to going to the store. You just went to the store with your mom after she got off work, and standing there in front of the rack of plastic bags, right that very minute, you decided what you wanted to be from the best of what was available and in your size.
Most years, you got up on Halloween morning and started rummaging through the closets to see what you could dress up as; there was literally no advanced planning at all. There were some standard and obvious choices that most any family could pull off at a moment’s notice. All you needed was an old sheet your mom was willing to let you cut up to be a ghost. And putting on some of your dad’s old clothes and tying a bandana to a stick instantly made you a “hobo,” which sounds vaguely inappropriate now. “Gypsy” was another popular outfit. We weren’t very politically correct in the ‘70’s.
Flash forward to 2015, and I spend weeks, sometimes months, working on my daughter’s vision for Halloween. In 1975, if an adult had asked you in July, “What do you want to be for Halloween?” you would have thought they were nuts. Today, I routinely ask my daughter’s friends what they are dressing up as a couple months before the big day and I know what my daughter plans to be by early summer.
Last year, my daughter wanted to be “Elsa” from “Frozen.” And she didn’t want a Disney princess costume, she wanted to look like the real Elsa, who you know… is a cartoon. On Etsy, you can find very elaborate, movie-set quality gowns at a cost of several hundred dollars. I finally got her approval on a simple one that exuded Elsa’s essence and I was willing to pay for. It cost $65.
By the time I ordered a long-sleeve light blue leotard and silver shoes, I was up to about a hundred bucks. We went out trick-or-treating. It started raining after the third house and we went home and took it off. So, it was worn for about an hour.
This year, she wants to be “Katniss” from “The Hunger Games.” Based on last year’s disaster, I told her “I am not spending a hundred dollars on a leather jacket for you to wear for an hour on Halloween.” Thankfully, I was able to find a suitable leather jacket at a thrift store for $5 and I’ve bought inexpensive pants and a shirt, so for this year, I am at about $25.
Now, in case you are not in the game and you think I am crazy, let me assure that every parent-of-a-girl that I know is in the same boat. We scour the internet. We weep in the isles of JoAnn’s Fabrics. We dive head-first into boxes of dusty clothes at the back of dingy thrift shops. And when we are done, which means our child has now approved of our efforts; we clap our hands with joy and congratulate ourselves on a job well done. Sometimes we celebrate with wine.
I am breathing a sigh of relief that I have completed my Halloween challenge for this year. Time to start on that Christmas wish list! I think I’ll go pour myself another glass of Chardonnay.
Cheaper Than Therapy is a blog and live storytelling show in Montgomery, AL. FOLLOW the blog, LIKE the show on FB, FOLLOW me on Twitter @ReneaDijab or come check out the show!